Students and Faculty Host Event in Support of the Humanities

By Samira Kassem Sep 4, 2020

Photo Courtesy of Illinois Wesleyan University

As a tribute to the humanities, students and faculty gathered on August 31 for some brief speeches and to show solidarity for the professors that were set to receive terminal contracts later that evening. 

Terminal contracts were to be sent August 1, but were delayed until after the start of classes August 17. 

Although the original discontinuation of French, Italian, Religious Studies and Anthropology affected nine professors, only three professors were issued terminal contracts as of Monday due to other professors being relocated to different departments or accepting retirement packages.

The organizer of the event was English Professor Mike Theune along with students involved in the First Year Humanities Fellowship. 

Speakers included Sarah Buchmann ‘22, Taylor Plantan ‘21, Samira Kassem ‘21, William Brown ‘22 and Abby Hopp ‘23. 

In response to the event, President Nugent said for the Pantagraph, “I do not agree that there is a turn away from the humanities here” citing her commitment to keeping the schools of Music and Art open. 

Professor Mike Theune said he was confused by this statement. “President Nugent may not agree that there is a turn away from the humanities here, but I’m not sure how closing two humanities departments and one humanities-adjacent department can be seen as anything but.” 

The event comes shortly after news that the university received a letter from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), which was published by the organization, warning that without a serious and appropriate resolution, “the evident serious departures from association-recommended principles and standards” will result in an official AAUP investigation. 

President Nugent told the Pantagraph that the letter was based solely on faculty sources and that Illinois Wesleyan will be sending a formal response in the coming days. 

Senior Gia Joyce, an attendee of Monday’s event, told the Argus, “Like many, I’m disappointed in the direction IWU is heading. However, I’m more disheartened by how they have treated our faculty this past year. Changes need to be made, and I don’t want to see our university close. But these changes can happen without neglecting and abusing the faculty who are the driving forces behind the esteemed ‘IWU experience.” 

Joyce said that the event was a great way to show the administration that students are upset and put pressure on them for better support of the humanities and its faculty.

 “Our event on Monday, in part, mourned and protested the fact that the program cuts affected so greatly IWU’s humanities.So: we’re watching, and trying to make clear what effect the administration’s and Board’s decisions are having.” Theune said. 

All that were involved in Monday’s event say that they are keeping watch of the situation and are prepared to continue pressuring the administration in their commitment to the humanities and the faculty of this university.

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